In Clubbed to Death, Helen Hawthore, finds herself once again on the front lines. This time it’s at the Superior Club, a posh Florida country club.
Number seven in Elaine Viets‘ acclaimed Dead-End Job mystery series gives the reader a not-so complimentary look into the customer care offices at the once respected facility. Lately, the Superior Club has begun accepting members with disreputable backgrounds: convicted felons, disbarred lawyers, wife beaters, coke heads and mafia members. The unspoken motto: “As long as you spend money here, you can do what you want,” prevails.
The 40ish, hazel-eyed heroine has established a new life for herself in Lauderdale, far from St. Louis and her ex-husband, Rob. Donning the navy blue Superior Club uniform has been a real step down from a previously successful career and six-figure income. But Helen would do anything to escape the divorce decree handing over half of her future income to her ne’er-do-well ex-mate.
“A heroine with a sense of humor and a gift for snappy dialogue.” –Jane Heller
Her quarters at The Coronado Tropic Apartments may have seen better days as has Helen’s very used car, Toad, but the quirky circle of neighbors have become family and an ever present support group. And then there’s a silver-haired, private detective, Phil, who shares her bed. . . . . . Life seemed good until…..
The Brandy Alexander docks at the Yacht Club basin with Rob and his well-preserved, billionaire wife on board. Before you know it, Helen has been fired, arrested for domestic abuse and possible murder. Too bad the office snitch had witnessed that midnight altercation in the parking lot after the Eric Clapton concert.
“Wickedly funny.” –The Miami Herald
Rob had been selling confidential information gleaned from the customer’s files and Marcella wants details before her reputation suffers any more damage. With a little coaching from her PI boyfriend, Helen begins snooping. Could it be Jessica, the out-of work-actor; Mama’s boy Cameron; Peruvian beauty, Xaviera, or ex-club member, Jackie?
But when Helen discovers the Winderstine file missing, the office snitch clubbed to death along with the philandering plastic surgeon, it’s time to call security and Phil in that order.
Once again Ms. Viets does not disappoint with the seventh installment in the long running Dead-End Jobs series. One reviewer held the novel’s “colorful support cast ranging from the eccentric to the deranged” responsible for its continued success. Another reader, who figured out the killer early on, said, “It doesn’t matter. Like most American cozies, it is less the answer at the end of the road than the journey getting there”.
One disparaging reader admits to returning the book to the library saying, “It was getting very farfetched with too many subplots for my liking”.
While Clubbed to Death might not be the right selection for every book club, it’s a nice diversion from more serious novels. Members of the church book club are looking forward to the May 5th literary tea at JKPC when Ms. Viets will read and sign her newest Dead End Job novel: The Art of Murder. Event information can be found here.
- At the Superior Club, an Us vs. Them mentality prevails. Who is Us? Them?
- At various times in her life, Helen has been a member of each of the above groups. Which do you think she prefers? Why?
- Ms. Viets parodies plastic surgery from Brenda’s cone-shaped fake boobs to Marcella’s stretched eyes. Besides the obvious cost of the procedure, what are some of the other consequences; both pro and con? Have you or would you ever go under the knife?
- According to Helen’s detective boyfriend, Phil: “People develop habits and they return to them once they feel safe. That’s how we catch them.” If you were ever in hiding, like Rob, what habit would give you away?
- Helen is firmly convinced that Marcella, aka the Black Widow, has disposed of five husbands with Rob a possible six. On what is she basing her opinion? Is there any actual evidence that the Black Widow is a killer?
- What are Superior Club members hoping to accomplish with the question: “Do you know who I am?” Are they successful? Why or Why Not?
- According to Jackie, prison inmates have no need to ask, “Do you know who I am?” Why is that true? Why could Jackie be considered a hero by her fellow jailbirds?
- From the novel’s title, Clubbed to Death, to Elsie’s thigh-high black leather boots, humor abounds in Ms. Viets’ work. Give examples. Did you ever laugh out loud while reading the book?
- Jobless, without a decent reference and deep in debt, Helen stood by her decision to quit her customer care position at the Superior Club. Do you agree with her reasoning? Why or Why Not?
- How would you rate Clubbed to Death? Would you read another book by Elaine Viets?